Monday, August 31, 2015

Contracts Written in Disappearing Ink

Credit: Peter Kaminski
They say "A Picture Paints A Thousand Words." If that is the case, then it stands to reason that a thousand words must paint a picture. But what happens to the picture if you start to erase some of the words?

According to Mario Elia; a Doctor from London, Ontario; this is what the Province of Ontario is doing with it's contract with Physicians. They agreed to a certain rate of pay, but are now changing the game to suit their own purpose. Essentially, they have made election promises and expect the doctors to pay the bill.

Now I'm not going to get into the political side of this issue. We are currently under Liberal Party rule, but the same thing was done by the New Democrats under Bob Rae (referred to colloquially as Bob Rae Days), and the Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris made dramatic cuts to health care as well. I personally have a very difficult time trusting any politician.

This story is, however, an excellent illustration of #EthicalDebt at play.When (if) our government goes back to the bargaining table, our physicians (if there are any left in Ontario) will have a hard time agreeing to any contract. They will be, justifiably so, suspicious that the contract may be written in disappearing ink. I chose the image that accompanies this post because the artist says:
« The [Buddha] board has a sandstone-like texture that turns ink-black when you paint on it with plain water. Over the course of 20-30 minutes, the water evaporates, and your drawing disappears. »
For how long is your signature a sign of your commitment?

Do your contracts (or the spirit within which they were signed) only last as long as circumstances are in your favour? ...or do you stand by your word?

If I asked your business associates or customers the same question, would their answers agree with yours?

So, you are different. That's great! What about the people you manage? Have you said one thing, but put your people in a position that they can never deliver? Have you already identified the "scape goat" for your failed promise?

Ethical Debt is a line item on your moral balance sheet. You can talk all you want about honesty and transparency, but when the people look at the picture that is you, does the image align with what the public relations department has painted, or were they painting on a Buddha Board?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Keys To Collaboration - A Review

They say Teamwork Makes the Dream Work. Unfortunately, teamwork can also cause nightmares. In The Keys To Collaboration: How to Build A Great Team or Fix the One You've Got, Lane Sherman provides practical and actionable guidance for success among teams. Many books on the subject of teamwork rely on broken metaphors or sports analogies. This book is for the busy professional who doesn't want to waste time reading such drivel, but wants some clear, no-nonsense direction.

In Part One, Mr. Sherman correctly points out that not all collections of individuals working toward a common goal are actually teams. An often overlooked consideration is the difference between Working Groups and Teams. This distinction is critical for leaders, as all other collaboration efforts hinge upon it. He then goes into the details of his Five Key Factors of Collaboration and explains the tasks that you, as a leader, will need to undertake.

In Part Two, the author guides you through the key conversations that will ensure that the team members are equipped for success. These conversations are related back to his Five Key Factors in a manner that is easy to understand and builds upon the foundation that was built in Part One.

Part Three covers the day to day management of the team. It is interesting to note that while entire books have been written on this part, it is one of the smallest parts in the book. This is the main differentiator between this book and others that you may have read on the subject of teams. The mechanics of team leadership are actually pretty basic. However without the first two parts, perfect execution of management does not guarantee success... which then makes the fourth part of this book so critical.

Part Four is most likely the reason you will purchase this book. Either something went wrong and now you need to fix it; or you want to avoid the dysfunctional teams you've had in the past. Here, the author provides six steps that again, build upon the foundation of his Five Key Factors of Collaboration to guide the team back to the path of success. Even if you are just starting a new team, this is an important section so that warning signs can be identified and corrections made early.

Parts Five and Six deal with tools and activities that will be very useful to most teams, but especially remote teams.

With almost 20 years of professional experience working with both groups and teams, I can vouch for the value of this book. You will certainly find yourself referring to it again and again, especially if you collaborate with dynamic teams.